I suspect I’ve written before about my horribly inelegant practice of dunking biscotti into brandy and my no doubt equally unsophisticated enjoyment of eating post-prandial chocolate with the fiery stuff. (In fact, brandy as a food partner is a most under-rated pleasure – it goes with just about everything – the only trouble is the little and not-too-frequent sips, unless you want to end up pissed too quickly; it’s not exactly refreshing. I’m tasking of neat brandy here, of course.)
Well, both of those sweet-toothed practices continue for me (including the biscotti version this very Sunday evening), but I have a new twist. Klipdrift Export Brandy, the twist is called. That is, the brandy that is most famous, or infamous, for being partnered with Coke, helping to give the sort of image (white, racist rugger-bugger, hard-drinking men) that keeps untold numbers of “Black diamonds”, and quite a few white diamonds too, and lots that are less precious, away from Cape brandy entirely, and causing great heartache to the Distell and KWV brandy marketers, as whiskey sales soar and brandy sales sink, and people here buy very ordinary cognac for twice the price of vastly superior local stuff.
Returning to my twist. What I do is to have two glasses of brandy. One, a normal good quality white wine glass, with a generous dollop of Klippies. The other, a more elegant, smaller glass (but never a “snifter”) with a centimetre or so of something splendid – tonight it was Van Ryn’s 15 Year Old. You work out which glass ends up full of crumbs, and which gets started with, finished with and sniffed at periodically. It’s a sort of conspiracy of substitution played against my tastebuds – but even my tastebuds wouldn’t be easily fooled or satisfied with an inferior brandy.
Let’s get the price thing over with quickly: I’ve just checked and Klipdrift costs R115 from Makro online. (You could buy it from Norman Goodfellows online for R143 if you really want to help them make a truly disgusting profit, or are just a bit stupid.) Van Ryn 15 Year Old costs around R1000, and is worth the money, but in terms of extraordinary value it’s not a patch on Klippies.
That’s my point, really. Klipdrift Export – presumably made in very large quantities – really IS remarkable value for money. Unlike most of the popular “mixer” brandies of vaguely similar price, with only about 30% potstill component (Viceroy, the basic Oude Meester, etc etc), it is perfectly possible, even if you’re quite fussy, to sniff and sip Klippies neat, without getting blasted by firepower or a bit disgusted by sweetness. It’s a really good brandy of its type, and it’s hard to think that it’s matched anywhere in the world (certainly not in Europe, going by my admittedly limited experience) for price:quality ratio.
I was even wondering if brand-owner Distell isn’t indulging in a bit of perverse humour here – making the country’s most iconic cheap-mixer brandy so extremely good. Far too good, really, for mixing with Coke, I think. Rather mix it with chocolate or biscotti!
Incidentally, there’s also a superior, potstill version called Klipdrift Gold, which is obviously much better, and much more expensive. And there are all sorts of stories about this great brand – including an explanation of the label image of the clock showing 2 minutes past 8…. There’s a whole website about it all, here. But really, if you’re a proper brandy lover and a bit impecunious, don’t turn up your nose at Klippies. Forget the Coke accompaniment and just be grateful.